Tuesday, November 29, 2005

And the innuendo jokes? That's just gravy!

The Toronto Blue Jays signed B.J. Ryan on Monday. Reaction to this has been mixed. Ken Rosenthal calls this "Nuts." However, Richard Griffin manages to muster a few compliments in between his regular shots. So who's right?

The answer, as is often the case, is both of them. Giving Ryan a 5 year deal is nuts. Consistently good closers are hard to find, and Ryan hasn't been a closer for a long period of time. The Jays are going to look foolish if Ryan is putting up a 4.50 ERA in year 3 of this deal. They will also catch a lot of flack if Ryan goes down to injury. But if he produces over the five years like he did the past two years, then he will be a steal.

One thing that hasn't really been talked about is the trickle down effect of the Ryan signing. Most everybody agrees that this frees up Miguel Batista to be moved; however nobody has really floated the idea that they could trade another one of their starters. Before, their starting depth chart looked like:

Roy Halladay
Guastavo Chacin
Ted Lilly
Josh Towers
Dave Bush

With Scott Downs, Pete Walker, Dustin McGowan and Shawn Marcum all waiting for their shot should any of those five should falter.

What's stopping the Jays from making a package of say, Chacin and Rios and picking up a quality bat like Adam Dunn? (Ignoring that Dunn probably not likely to be available.) How about moving Ted Lilly for something? Batista gives them a viable replacement for any starter not named Halladay.

(With that said, JP is talking up the interest in Batista, which probably means that he is looking to move him and wants to generate more interest.)

Needless to say, this is only the beginning, and the Jays can move in many different directions. And this is the first time in a long time that the offseason will hold a lot of interest for Jays fans.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Survivor: Guatemala Episode 11 Recap

Poor Gary.  The man will never win the big one, will he?  But hey, he made things interesting before he left which is better than what Jamie did.  I would assume that he was going this week regardless of what happened at Tribal Council.  Lydia's attempt to make an alliance with Danni and Gary was already known and was brought out in the open at the Tribal Council, so Gary didn't have that hammer to bring out to squash Lydia.

The random thoughts from the week:

  • I need to stop making off-hand comments.  My thought last week about Lydia and Cindy being a boring final 2?  Out the window.  Lydia would get fried if she made the final 2, and if Cindy was the one to take Lydia to the final 2, she would get a lot of "Why is Lydia so deserving?" questions.
  • What is with these players screwing up a good thing?  Jamie got too paranoid and got the boot because of it.  Judd gets caught lying after berating everybody else for lying and then saying that he hasn't lied.  And Lydia decides to stand up to Stephanie.
  • And more about Lydia (hey, she actually was involved in the show beyond catching minnows and doing a goofy dance!)  What got into her bonnet?  She's hungry so she's going after Stephanie (who got the first two questions wrong) in the reward challenge?  Did she realize that she was basically sacrificing her (very secure) position in the game for an attempt to win a meal?  Why not divide up your targets and take a shot at Steph and at Rafe (since he's proven to be pretty strong in challenges)?  This is the difference between the best players and the hangers-on:  The best players are always considering the big picture for every small decision they have to make, while the hangers-on tend to concentrate their decisions on the short-term without looking at how this will affect their long-term game.  (See also: This challenge on Survivor Marqueasas, Shii-Ann's post/pre-merge deal making on Survivor Thailand)
  • I don't know if Judd is screwed or not.  He showed the clue to Stephanie, so she knew that he was trying to trick the outsiders and then find the idol for himself.  I don't remember him showing Rafe or Cindy the real clue; if he didn't then we will get to see how much pull Steph has with Rafe and Cindy.  But his sanctimonious preaching at Tribal Council was probably the real damaging part.
  • Gary might have gotten eliminated, but his hit and run on Judd was the best thing possible for Danni.  It definitely placed some doubt around Judd (as covered in the previous point), and that leaves Steph, Rafe and Cindy in a vulnerable position.  They have a final 4 spot to offer, which is better than Danni's current position.  And Steph could also make a secret final 2 alliance with her if she wanted to.  All of the sudden, Danni has hope and options.

And finally, the lists:

Most likely to win if they make to win the Final 2:
LW   TW  
3.   1.      Rafe
2.   2.      Danni
4.   3.      Cindy
6.   4.      Steph
7.   5.      Judd
5.   6.      Lydia
1.   -       Gary

Most likely to win:
LW   TW  
1.   1.      Rafe
3.   2.      Danni
4.   3.      Steph
5.   4.      Cindy
6.   5.      Lydia
7.   6.      Judd
2.   -       Gary

Who I want to win:

1.           Steph
2.           Rafe
3.           Danni
4.           Cindy
5.           Judd
6.           Lydia

Comments:  I think that Steph has played a fantastic game thus far.  She's been leading the the main alliance, and has managed to stop any attempts at a revolution.  She's also snuffed out any potential problems before they could do any damage, and has avoided any major backlash that would come from orchestrating the ousting.  Rafe has been the most surprising player this season.  I didn't expect him to be a factor in any of the challenges, but there he is, winning the immunity necklace 3 out of 4 times.  He's also been a great strategic player, making the first move to dump Jamie, while letting Steph do the heavy lifting to get it done.  It will be very interesting to see what happens when he and Steph are put into direct conflict with each other.  Danni and Cindy are pretty close together in my view; Danni is ahead right now because we've gotten to see more of her personality than Cindy's.  Hopefully that will change over the next episodes though.  And finally, if Judd or Lydia manages to win, it's time to give up the ghost and retire Survivor forever.

My predicted Final 2:  Rafe over Steph (5-2)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Florida, meet Montreal. Montreal, meet Florida.

I am not a Jeffrey Loria fan. What he did to the Montreal Expos was absolutely horrendous, and made sure that Montreal would cease to be a viable baseball town. And yet, because he was a good soldier to the Bud Selig plan to make contraction a viable threat to the MLBPA, he got to switch ownership to the Marlins and then win a World Series. Somehow that doesn't seem fair or right.

And now he's up to his same old tricks again. I've linked to the Baseball Think Factory thread regarding Loria's threat to move the team. The links in the inital summary covers most of the angles to this story, though I suspect that somebody is going to flesh out any parallels between the Florida situation and the Montreal situation.

Kicking Him While He's Down

Can things get any worse for Pete Rose? At least he had his baseball skills (no matter if they were slightly over rated). Now even those are placed in question.

The Amazing Race: Dysfunctional Family Edition

I had a whole diatrabe about The Amazing Race that was ready to go, but this article by Josh Wolk pretty well sums it up for me.  (It's also more entertaining than anything I had written, but that's beside the point.)  The only thing I'd throw in is I want to see the Weavers beat the Godlewski family.  Because as much as the Weavers annoy me, the Godlewskis annoy me more.

Monday, November 21, 2005

And Mike James as Mighty Mouse

Is this game the 2005-2006 equivalent of this game (Raptors/Bulls)?

Survivor: Guatemala Episode 10 Recap

What an interesting show we had last week.  Unlike my prediction, Gary was not voted out even though he was an easy target.  In a bitter irony, Jamie was voted out because he was too paranoid about whether he was going to be voted out that week.  Too bad for Jamie, good for everybody else (including the viewers).  That Final 7 intrigue I was talking about?  Scratch that.  Now it's on.

Scattershot thoughts:

  • The most caught off guard by the vote wasn't Jamie, but it was Judd.  While that wasn't too surprising (nobody sent him the memo), he was there when the seeds were initially planted by Danni and Gary.  Gary's "Let's have the strongest around at the end" speech was a move of sheer brilliance.  If she can't win, Steph wants the winner to deserve to win.  And at the same time, she understands that if she ends up in the final 2 with Lydia, Rafe or Cindy, she could lose because she was the leader of the Axis of Evil, and somebody will have to pay for their sins.  Keeping Danni and Gary around (with Judd being her final 2 partner) could be her ticket to winning.  (Of course, she doesn't seem to be considering the possibility that she could win based on her merits for leading the Axis of Evil, which could be buoyed if she actually starts winning challenges.)
  • With that said, Judd has to do two things: 1) Not overreact to being on the outside of the decision to vote Jamie off.  Try to take it in stride, as opposed to being hurt. And 2) Try to solidify the Danni/Gary/Steph/Judd final 4 plan.  Part 1 is very important, but the key is part 2.  He has to realize that he is in a dangerous position; his fellow Axis of Evil mates have shown that they are willing to work with Danni and Gary when they want to or need to, and they are willing to do it without talking to him.  So he doesn't want to make waves, but if he doesn't solidify the final 4 plan, he is kissing the $1 million goodbye.
  • This episode also marked the final emergence of Rafe as a threat to win the entire game.  He won immunity in a somewhat physical challenge, and he instigated the move on Jamie.  My thoughts on a Steph and Rafe final 2 are very much out of question now; one (Steph) will make a play on the other (Rafe) before too long.
  • Lydia: Final 4 member because she's a part of the Axis of Evil, because she's easily disposed of at any point, or both? 

And finally, two lists:

Most likely to win if they make to win the Final 2:

1.  Gary
2.  Danni
3.  Rafe
4.  Cindy
5.  Lydia
6.  Steph
7.  Judd

(Random aside: Cindy vs. Lydia would be the best Final 2 for all of the wrong reasons.  I mean, what exactly do you ask the two?  It's not like they're going to be these super devious players who catch everybody off guard.  They are only going to make the final three if they get brought along by one of the current main players - Rafe or Steph - and they only make the Final 2 if they beat the main player in the final immunity challenge.  So right there you've eliminated a lot of the bitter questions that we normally get.  What's left beyond the cliched questions?)

And not to be confused with the first list...

Most likely to win:

1.  Rafe
2.  Gary
3.  Danni
4.  Steph
5.  Cindy
6.  Lydia
7.  Judd

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Survivor: Guatemala Episode 9

In what was only a slightly shocking outcome, Bobby Jon is the first member of the Survivor: Guatemala jury.  And so goes one of the classier players that was left in the game.  Heck, when he was bamboozled by Gary's Immunity find, he took it in stride and as a part of the game.  But to be honest, I'm not upset that he's gone.  Sure, it gives us more of the irritating Jamie and Judd show, but it also brings us closer to the true beginning of the game - the final 7.

How the final 7 shakes down is directly dependent on whether Gary wins immunity this week.  If he does, then Danni goes.  And then Gary will follow unless he is the second coming of Tom from last season.  If he does win at the final 7, then we get to see the explosion of Yahxa in all its glory.  Specifically, we get to see who's got more game to survive for two more weeks- Jamie or Judd.  But that's not what I'm looking to happen.

I figure that Gary is gone this week.  He's getting better editing now than he was before, ramping him up for the good send off, but I can't see them showing him flatly lying to Amy about not being an NFL quarterback if he was going to be a major factor in the final 2.  So he's gone, and you are left with the final 7:  Steph, Lydia, Rafe, Cindy, Jamie, Judd and Danni.  Logic says that Danni goes next.  But Steph et al are getting really tired of Jamie and Judd, and can easily see them as a physical threat later on.  It would make for a nice clean story for the Steph 4 if Danni were to win Immunity right when she was on the block, no?  I would guess that Jamie would go at this point, because they are nervous that he is going to ruin their game all together.  The week after, Judd would be the target (and what a fun Tribal Council it would be if Judd did not see the vote coming!)  This leaves us with a final 5 of Steph, Rafe, Lydia, Cindy and Danni.  This is where I'm a bit unsure as to what will happen next. 

The smart move would be for a final two alliance to pick up Danni and vote out somebody from the other side.  But that leaves you with somebody who's without a final two alliance _and_ angry that they are on the outside.  So logic says that Danni's gone unless she wins immunity.  Which then leaves us with Steph, Lydia, Rafe and Cindy.  I've got to assume that Steph will make the final two in this case, as she will be seen as the leader of the unholy alliance and would be "punished" for what they did. The other one? I don't know.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Survivor: Guatemala Thoughts (Part 2)

With the jury phase upon us, I figured it's a good time for another quick hit look at where Survivor currently stands...

  • This might be one of the most unstable alliances that has ever been on Survivor.  It's not a question of if they will fall apart, but a question of when.  My guess is once Bobby Jon and Gary are gone, we are going to see 2 groups of 3 form with Danni holding the swing vote.
  • Those on shaky ground:
    • Bobby Jon:  Yikes.  So he's fighting with Jamie, who's on pretty solid ground with his alliance.  He's a member of the smaller tribe.  AND He's an immunity threat?  No wonder he was begging to make the jury.
    • Gary:  He's in a bad position.  In order to survive he needs to keep on winning immunity.  But if he keeps on winning immunity, he's just making himself more of a target (when he might be able to skate by should Judd continue to annoy everybody).  His best bet seems to be to lose immunity this week to anybody not named Bobby Jon and then go on the greatest immunity challenge run ever seen in Survivor history.  Since this isn't Colby we're talking about, I'm guessing he's gone next week.
    • Judd:  Being a loudmouth, a physical threat and annoying is not a good combination.
  • Those playing the best games:
    • Stephanie:  Her game has not changed much since last time around, but this time she's a part of the majority.  Her biggest test will come once all of Yaxha is gone and it's time to start picking off Nakum members.  Can she navigate her way around the resentment that comes from being the leader when somebody gets voted out?
    • Cindy:  Let's run through the list (and see if I can blow up the HTML):
      • Not perceived as a threat? Check. 
      • Seemingly liked by everybody? Check. 
      • A part of the main alliance, but not the leader? Check. 

      Yup, here's your player best positioned to win if they make it to the final two.  When it gets down to the final 7, she needs to make sure she's still a part of the majority.  And she might have to win the final immunity challenge once the final three hits, but if she makes final 2, she's probably going to win.

  • So what do I see as how things are going to go from here on out?  Here's a general idea:
    • Final 9:  Bobby Jon voted out
    • Final 8:  Gary voted out
    • Final 7:  Judd voted out
    • Final 6:  Jamie voted out
    • Final 5:  Danni voted out
    • Final 4:  Rafe voted out
    • Final 3:  Cindy voted out
    • Final Survivor: Stephanie wins